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Finding the Time to Read

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I find this hard to admit as a writer, but I haven't read very much this year. In fact, I read a whole lot more before I became serious about my writing. I love reading, I just haven't figured out how to fit in into my day. The time I would usually spend reading I now spend writing.

I was hoping you could give me some tips. How do you fit reading into a very busy life? How do you divide your writing time and your reading time? Any thoughts would be very much appreciated.

#1 - August 10, 2012, 04:53 PM

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Not having cable TV helps. I read in the evenings when most people are watching the tube, along with other down times. I also keep books handy so I don't have to hunt for something. Well, actually, there are piles of them around the house so it's pretty easy to find one. :grin
#2 - August 10, 2012, 05:11 PM

I'm having the same issues. I think you just have to take time from other things like TV, social media, internet, etc.  Sometimes just setting 30 minutes aside everyday. Just like writing. I try to set aside 30 minutes every day for writing, I should do the same for reading. I will try to take my own advice.  I think maybe reading books similar to what you are writing may help as well since you can look at it as research.
#3 - August 10, 2012, 05:15 PM
THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC (Boyds Mills Press, Fall 2018)

Also, my dad is not a writer but he also has a hard time finding time to read. But he has "read" a ton of books just by listening to them whenever he is driving.  Just a thought.
#4 - August 10, 2012, 05:18 PM
THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC (Boyds Mills Press, Fall 2018)

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Yes! Audiobooks. I download them directly onto my iPod Touch from my local library through their Overdrive system and listen to them during my daily walks. I listen to 3-5 books a month like this and it's incredibly enjoyable. 
#5 - August 10, 2012, 05:23 PM
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My biggest problem is that I'm a binge reader -- once I start, I can't stop! I used to read before bed, after the kids were sleeping, but that eventually became my writing time. So now, I know that I have to say, yes, this Saturday afternoon I'm going to start -- and probably finish -- this book, so family, you're on your own. Unfortunately for my TBR pile, this is often not reality! Thus, I have a hard time allowing myself to even start some books....

Oooo, but now that I have sparkly new phone, maybe I'll be able to download books and read while I exercise! That is, if I start exercising!  :) Great idea, Hélène!
#6 - August 10, 2012, 05:58 PM

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I have an ongoing battle with myself over television, but my inner child and I have come to a compromise over the past year which seems to be working: no TV during the week--I don't even turn it on--but I can watch whatever I want on the weekend.  Somehow this has just naturally led to a a lot more reading between 8 and bedtime.  And since I'm out of the habit of turning the TV on, I'm not watching much over the weekend either.

I find that every once in a while I just lose my reading mojo--that's okay!--but to get back into the reading habit, I pick a real guilty pleasure that I know I'm going to enjoy.

For me separating reading and writing isn't hard because I rarely write at night--I'm much more productive in the early morning.
#7 - August 10, 2012, 06:14 PM
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I take along a book when I know I'll be sitting - like the dr./dentist waiting room, waiting to pick up my kids. Also, if you have one, the DVR allows you watch TV in about 1/3 less time.
#8 - August 10, 2012, 07:22 PM

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We killed our TV about 12 years ago, except for DVDs.  I don't miss it.  Evenings are for reading (or writing, if the spirit grabs me).
#9 - August 10, 2012, 07:48 PM
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Thanks for the thoughts, everyone :)

Evenings are hard for me, because it's the only time I have to write. I write until I'm too exhausted to think anymore and then I either watch an episode of tv or go straight to bed.

I like the idea of scheduling time to read, just as I do to write. I might have to look into audio books, although I'm not sure when I would listen to them. I drive a scooter, so I can't listen while driving. But they do sound like a good idea for when I'm cooking or cleaning.

tulipwars  -- I totally understand losing your reading mojo. That might be the case with me. I have a huge pile of books I've started then put down because I just didn't have the energy to invest at the time. Maybe I need to make reading dates... bring back the romance ;)

AmandaSue -- hmm, you might be on to something about reading books like my WIP. I'll give that a try :)
#10 - August 10, 2012, 08:24 PM

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I think there's a natural ebb and flow with reading/writing, too. When things are really happening with the writing, that's the story I'm involved in--and I read less. But when I'm stuck, sometimes I set aside the writing and read intensively. And when I'm between projects, too. Maybe you're just finding yourself so invested in what you're writing right now that reading is taking a back seat?
#11 - August 10, 2012, 08:56 PM

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I kill two birds with one stone (sorry for the cliche!) I have an elliptical cross trainer in my attic with a bookstand attached to it. i try to get on it 5-6 times a week for 30 minutes and read while I'm exercising. Love it. I get my reading and my exercising all at once. . .

Lisa
#12 - August 10, 2012, 09:12 PM
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Sorry, this probably won't be of much help, but I have insomnia.  Instead of tossing and turning and wasting that time at night, I give myself five minutes to fall asleep.  If I don't, I turn the light on and read.  (My dog, who doesn't approve of my disgusting reading habit, sighs, gets up, and goes to sleep under the sofa.) My husband sleeps soundly, so he's no problem.

I've finished LOTS of books that way.
#13 - August 10, 2012, 09:53 PM
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I always think I have no time to read. Then I get a Jack Reacher book and find I have time to read but no time for housework or cooking. :) It may just be your book?
#14 - August 10, 2012, 10:36 PM
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I hardly watch any TV. We lived in Italy for 5 years, where the programming isn't fabulous. Except for a few mini-series that I enjoyed, I found I read MUCH more than I had before. When we moved back to the US, I was no longer in the habit of watching TV every night, so I didn't.

You mention that you write in the evenings, and then watch a little TV before you go to bed. What if you read a chapter before sleeping instead of TV? Having an e-reader also helps--they're so portable that you can have one in your bag and pull it out when you're in line at the bank, etc.
#15 - August 11, 2012, 03:12 AM
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I struggle with this too and I just joined a book club a few months ago (with books for grown ups!) and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to keep up the the reading.
Partly, I've lowered my expectations. I just can't read as much as I used to. I try (but I'm still not good at this) to pick out only a few books at the library, so I don't feel guilty about a pile I will never get through. (I realize as I type this that I broke this rule this week and I will never get through the pile I have right now.  :))
I also go in ebbs and flows like olmue said. Right now I'm reading a lot of nonfiction, research for my next project, so that's taking up most of my reading and writing time.
When I'm drafting, though, I tend to read more light stuff because I don't want to think too hard when I'm not writing.
And now, with this book club, I usually have one book for grown-ups to read each month. I really like being part of this book club. It gives me a deadline and has stretched me out of my comfort zone of just reading MG/YA fiction.
#16 - August 11, 2012, 09:39 AM
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Natalie -- I did what you suggested and read a chapter of a book before bed. It took me twice as long as usual because I kept having to re-read paragraphs, but it's progress!

Austen -- I like that, having reading goals set by your book club. I don't know that I'm that adventurous, but I can certainly set my own goals.

Thank you all so much for your thoughts. I LOVE reading, but it's hard for me to make it a priority. Making it a goal rather than a reward has been really helpful. Plus, totally going to try audio books.

Cheers!
#17 - August 12, 2012, 05:36 AM

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Hooray, Beth S!

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#18 - August 12, 2012, 05:39 AM
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I always think I have no time to read. Then I get a Jack Reacher book and find I have time to read but no time for housework or cooking. :) It may just be your book?
MysteryRobin, our house gets filthy every time there's a new Reacher book out, too. Also when Robert Crais has a new book out.... BTW, Lee Child's forum is closing--he's getting a new website--but refugees are going to thebookjoint dot com. Good place to talk about Reacher.

I listen to audiobooks while I'm driving. Get ones that I might not read otherwise--"good for me" books, and thick nonfiction.
#19 - August 19, 2012, 03:41 PM
Learning to Swear in America (Bloomsbury, July 2016)
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I get a lot of reading done just by keeping a book handy for every place where I might be able to snatch in a page or two. I have a book in the kitchen that I read while I'm waiting for things to finish cooking. The bathroom is an obvious place, I probably get through six books a year in the bathroom alone. I read before bed, even though I'm often tired and maybe only get 15 minutes in before conking out some nights. I keep one in the car for if I'm waiting for my boyfriend to grab something. I keep one on the couch and sometimes read a page in between commercials while watching TV. Basically, every room has a book and if I'm ever just standing there waiting for anything, that book gets picked up!

I also have a strict rule that if I am starting to not feel excited about reading, the book obviously isn't doing it for me and needs to be traded for something fresh and exciting, whether I'm 25 pages in, or 300 pages in!
#20 - August 19, 2012, 04:23 PM
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I don't watch TV. I watched the Olympics, and I always watch GB Packers football with my family. I'll probably tune in coverage on Election Night. But that's it.

Still, I'm finding less time to read just lately. I'm writing more, teaching more, and planning a talk. Partly, it's that I *feel* like I'm not reading because I'm not gobbling books at the rate I used to, but for me, winding down for bed means at least 30 minutes of reading. I also take the current book everywhere with me. If I'm washing my face at night, I prop the book open on the bathroom counter and look at it rather than in the mirror. If I'm cooking, the book is in the kitchen. If DH and I are out in the car and stop at a store, often he'll run in and do the errand and I'll read in the car (yeah, he really IS a DH). :)

I also stop reading and get a new book if the current one isn't working for me. Life is too short. 
#21 - August 19, 2012, 04:43 PM
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I'm another one on the no TV bandwagon (I do watch Netflix a few times a week) -  I also read a chapter or two every night before bed.
#22 - August 19, 2012, 05:30 PM
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I think it's like anything else. Some years you make a lot of headway on diet and exercise. Some years there's more focus on family. Some years you will write obscene amounts. Some years you will read a lot.

Last year I read over 300 books. This year I think the number is closer to 30, but we had two graduations, health issues, and plenty of other important things going on.

The point is, as long as you love reading, you will get back to it. I will agree that keeping the television off is key to being productive in any area of your life. But don't sweat it so much if you have a lot going on. Part of being a good writer and reader is experiencing a full life. You bring more to the table that way!!
#23 - August 19, 2012, 06:26 PM
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I love TV -- because I read while it's on!  I'll sit and read with one ear on the TV, and it's the perfect background noise to my book ;)

I can't read at bedtime (I get too involved in the story, and not only will I stay awake until I finish it, but I'll have weird dreams about it), though.  I also read when I'm at the gym (on the elliptical), and if it's a really good book, then I'll exercise harder too (win-win, no?).

I do think Olmue's right, though.  Writing and reading go in cycles for me too, and I do have a harder time reading when I'm really involved in my writing.
#24 - August 19, 2012, 08:34 PM
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Thanks for all your responses, guys. My reading drought appears to have broken -- I even brought a book to an ice hockey game on the weekend so I could read between periods!

Thank you particularly to those who assured me it's normal to go through cycles with reading, and that I would get back to it eventually. I think that's very true.

I think the biggest barrier for me is actually the first three or four chapters of a book. It takes energy to invest in another set of characters and learn about another world. I have at least a dozen books scattered around the house, all abandoned just a few chapters in. Once I'm past that point, though, just try and stop me!

Thanks for helping me learn more about myself as a reader and get back on the horse, so to speak :)
#25 - August 20, 2012, 03:10 PM

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I love TV. If someone offered me a job writing for TV, I would drop everything and do it. :werd For me, it's another way to absorb wonderful stories--and it's an *excellent* education for things like pacing and plot structure. Occasionally my DH glares at me when I point out turning points and reversals! (Odd, slightly off-topic aside: Last summer we were selected to be a Nielsen family. When we did the preliminary 2-week TV-watching diary, I discovered that we actually watch FAR LESS TV than I expected! Alas, we also watched completely different TV than the rest of America :dr, so we didn't get any farther in the selection process--but it was fun while it lasted!)

But, back to the topic at hand, I do most of my reading right before I write. I sit down with my breakfast and a cup of tea, and read for 20-30 minutes before I go to work for the day. I find it a far better way to prime my brain for writing than checking email, etc (which I tend to find distracting). I also read far more when I'm writing a lot--burning through books at a pace of 1-2/week if I'm really producing a lot. I think of it like athletes needing eat a lot more when they're training. Put good story in, get good story out.  :yup
#26 - August 27, 2012, 02:38 PM

I do audio books... I went and got an audible account.  It means I can 'read' a book when I go running or cook... But like JennaRen I'm a binge reader too... Cuts into my sleep time if I get too close to the end ;-)
#27 - August 27, 2012, 04:48 PM

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Like others have mentioned, I read when I'm not writing--while I'm waiting for betas, or subbing.  I also joined a book club to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Glad to see you're finding some success!
#28 - August 27, 2012, 05:58 PM
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I second all the recommendations for audiobooks. Don't know how I ever lived without them! I listen to them while I'm commuting, cleaning, cooking, drying dishes, walking the dog… anything, really.

My favourite thing about audiobooks is the quality of the narrators. Many narrators are very talented actors, who put on different voices for the various characters (complete with accents etc.) It really brings the book to life in a new and refreshing way. 
#29 - August 27, 2012, 07:28 PM
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yellow_submarine, you're Aussie, right? How do you find audio books in Australia? I've tried Audible and iTunes and there are just so few available here, and the ones that are available are SUPER expensive -- way beyond my book budget.

And ecb, thanks for putting a word in for TV. I'm not one of those people who just turn the television on and watch whatever's on, but there are some really good shows out there. I feel like I've learned almost as much from watching tv and movies as I have from reading books about constructing a story and revealing character through dialogue. It's not something I'm willing to give up completely, but I do recognize how easily it can take over your life.
#30 - August 27, 2012, 10:09 PM

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